Home > Sports betting > Ex-NBA player Jontay Porter pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud

Ex-NBA player Jontay Porter pleads guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud

| By Jill R. Dorson
On Wednesday (10 July) former Toronto Raptor Jontay Porter turned himself in to federal authorities and pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a sports betting scandal that involves four others. Porter entered his plea at the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
raptors jontay porter investigation

Federal prosecutors recommended 41-51 months in prison and Porter will have to pay more than $450,000 in fines and fees. According to the New York Post, Porter was released on $250,000 bond put up by his wife and mother.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Porter from the league for life in April, several weeks after news broke that he may have violated league wagering rules. Porter tampered with two games so that his co-conspirators could win “under” prop bets. NBA players are allowed to gamble, but are forbidden from betting on basketball and from fixing games. Porter is the only NBA player to be banned or suspended for betting since PASPA was overturned in 2018.

According to a federal affidavit filed in June, the former NBA player agreed to leave two games early, ensuring that his co-conspirators won their bets. Porter was in debt to the men, who made their bets on legal sportsbooks. Porter admitted to placing bets and exiting games early in court Wednesday. He told Judge James R Cho that he did those things “in order to get out from under gambling debt” per the Post.

Cho set Porter’s sentencing for 18 December. He told Cho that he knew was he did was “wrong” and “unlawful”.

Other bettors won more than $1m

In the federal complaint that identifies the four gamblers who bet on the games in question, Porter is not named. He is referred to as “Player 1” but the dates and other details match up and point to him being the player in question. The games that Porter tampered with were played on 26 January and 22 March.

The bettors won more than $1m from their bets, which were flagged by legal operators. All four co-conspirators face federal charges for conspiracy to commit wire fraud charges. It wasn’t until after the final co-conspirator was arraigned that federal investigators indicated they would be filing charges against Porter.

Charges coming in Ontario, too?

From the context of the complaint, it is unclear if any were acting as an illegal bookmaker, although that is implied. The gamblers “forced” Porter to leave the games early so they could win their bets. Text messages from the complaint suggested that Porter was paying down debts with his actions.

The US charges may not be the only ones that Porter will face. On 18 June, ESPN reported that the Ontario provincial police had opened a criminal investigation into the illegal gambling scheme. So far, no charges have been filed.

Porter was the first of three North American professional athletes to be banned from their sport for life this spring. In April, three-time CFL Grey Cup winner Shawn Lemmon was banned for violating league gambling policy. And in June, Major League Baseball kicked out San Diego Padres Tucupita Marcano for betting on baseball. Marcano bet on the Pittsburgh Pirates, who he played for at the time.

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